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Violence in the Workplace

We can scroll through the news just about any day of the week and find a news story describing the events of workplace violence. But what is it that comes to mind when we think of workplace violence? Is it the traditional white collar office setting, where an employee feels that he or she has been wronged and has turned to violence as justice for those wrongdoings? That is an example of workplace violence, but it is actually just one of many examples that we should be focusing on.

Workplace violence is an act of violence that takes place in any business setting. Actually, violence in a place of business is the leading statistical type of violence in our society. According to the United States Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center, businesses have been the leader in violence in public sites for each of the years from 2017-2019. Open Spaces was second, then followed by Education, Residential Complexes, Houses of Worship, Military, and Transportation, with variation in the numbers towards the bottom of the list depending on the year. The one thing that stands out is that businesses have been on the top of that list regardless of the year.

There is no specific type of business that stands out as more vulnerable to attack than any other. From the statistics included in the chart above, businesses that had attacks occur at their locations were automobile service centers, a property management company, a plasma center, plumbing company, cemetery, bank, superstores, beer and wine store, gas stations, small supermarket, restaurants/bars, manufacturer, and a city municipal building. This list shows how any business can be at risk, at any time.

Knowing what we do about the workplace and it's propensity for violence, what can be done to prevent it? Well, let's start with some of the things that are already in place to encourage security. I'm sure everyone has encountered security guards, cameras, alarms, and key fob entry systems at one point or another. Each of these individual security measures has its own application, some of which may and regularly overlap. But which is the best at preventing violence. The only application of this group that requires a human presence at all times is the security guard. Does this make the security guard the ultimate form of security? Not in the least! Especially if the person in that position is not properly trained.

When viewing violence and the best way to prevent it, a trained, competent security guard is going to be your best bet at preventing violence from happening. But how do we ensure we are employing capable security guards to prevent attacks? The answer is, and always will be training. The issue with training that many security companies face is the time and resources it takes to initially train, or continue to train their guards. Believe it or not, the majority of security companies have no formal training in place for their security guards, other than the standard run of the mill onboarding training for the company. How can someone who is being hired to provide security for others be expected to perform the duties of their position without any training?

Training is essential for the basis of knowledge across the board for all watch guards working at any given company. Now what if all security guards are given the same knowledge and ability to succeed right from the start, and on an annual basis while they are employed with the company? Their ability to perform the duties of their job skyrockets along with their worth and desire to perform the job itself. Now what if each employee who works on the site, beyond the security watch guard, is also trained and given a plan in how to assess and detect threats of violence? The ability of that entire workplace to defend itself from the threat of an attack immediately goes up.

Let's look at one of the locations mentioned earlier from the chart. Imagine you work at a gas station, many shifts working alone late into the evening. You, like many others who work the same job across the country are given nothing to protect yourself, other than maybe a partition that keeps customers from entering the area behind the counter. This is not a desirable job because of the known risks that come along with it. What is the best thing that can be given to this employee? It's knowledge and a plan. That's right! By giving this person the knowledge to assess and detect threats, they're chances of reacting properly to any situation increases immensely. The same goes for the people working in an office, a restaurant or a car repair center.

When left to do your job without any knowledge or a plan of what to do, how well do you think you'll respond to a threat after it has presented itself? The key in training employees is to already know what they're looking for in a threat, and how to respond, preferably before violence occurs, but even after in the event that it does happen. Think for a moment how long it's going to take to get a police or EMS response to your location. Now, think about the time lost if a call is being placed after a violent event has taken placed, compared to before. The average person going about their lives does not need to be John Wick, but they should have the knowledge to prevent themselves from being harmed in the course of their daily lives.

Beyond training employees in threat detection and basic first aid, every business should have a plan in place that gives a guideline for employees to follow in the event of an attack. Threat assessments should be completed with management and a plan should be implemented, which is reviewed with employees on a reoccurring basis. Without a plan in place for any type of event, the business is essentially leaving any sort of response to chance.

By empowering every employee, vigilance to safety in the workplace increases. That increase in safety is more important than ever with each attack that occurs. By using as many security measures as necessary for a given location, the chances of creating a safe and secure environment increases. The knowledge and training of employees alone is not the ideal answer when it usually takes several security measures to effectively secure a location. Along with traditional forms of security, training and planning should also be implemented to develop the most desired result for the workplace.

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